Maryland missed a golden opportunity on Sunday to rise to the No. 1 seed conversation for the NCAA Tournament. But despite losing after being in a prime position, they still are the best team capable of earning the final top seed in March.
Three of the then-projected No. 1 seeds by ESPN's Joe Lunardi lost on Saturday. Baylor lost to a fellow No. 1 seed Kansas, but Gonzaga and San Diego State both lost to teams outside of the AP Top 25. And in San Diego State's case, a team that isn't making the NCAA Tournament.
It was a prime situation for Maryland to rise from the No. 2 line that they have been strapped to all season long. Alas, they fell on the road to Ohio State to pause the conversation for the time being - albeit in a loss that was not without some controversy.
The loss, however, does not permanently remove the Terrapins from becoming a No. 1 seed. In fact, Maryland is in the driver's seat for the final No. 1 seed currently occupied by San Diego State.
Kansas, Baylor and Gonzaga are untouchable for Maryland unless one of those teams fall down the stretch. Kansas has 11 Quadrant 1 victories, Baylor is 10-1 in Q1 chances and 6-0 in those on the road and Gonzaga is 22-0 in non-Q1 chances. No one is passing one of those three based on that alone.
The final spot is open. SDSU, Maryland, Duke, Dayton and Florida State are the last remaining teams in consideration for the final No. 1 seed. A crowded field to say the least.
None of them have what Maryland has though: four Q1 opportunities left on their regular-season schedule.
SDSU has none, Duke and Dayton have one, while Florida State has two after beating Louisville on Monday evening.
IF the committee regards Quadrant 1 wins as much as the NET rankings claim, then logic dictates that Maryland has the best opportunity to take that spot. Quadrant 1 games are defined as a home game against an opponent ranked 1-30 in the NET, a neutral site opponent from 1-50 or a road opponent from 1-75.
Before losing to Ohio State, Lunardi said that Maryland "would [ascend] to the No. 1 seed" with a win over the Buckeyes. That would slide the Aztecs to the No. 2 seed line. And losing to Ohio State is just another Q1 loss. Of all the losses from the top teams last week, including Duke's loss to NC State, Maryland's was the second-best in the eyes of metrics. They really shouldn't be hurt from that loss whatsoever.
On top of those four regular-season games, the Terrapins would likely get at least two more Q1 chances in the Big Ten Tournament in the semifinals and the championship game, assuming they kept winning. But all of this hinges on continuing to win down the stretch.
Maryland would have a better resume than any team that wins the ACC (Duke, Florida State or Louisville) and definitely better wins than either Dayton or San Diego State.
The opportunity for a No. 1 seed is still there, now they can just focus on themselves.
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